This month marks the start of the United Way and Yale partnership campaign, an annual fundraiser where Yale employees give part of their paycheck to serve New Haven.
In past years, donations have been made to United Way by faculty and staff via an optional deduction in their paychecks, but this year, students were also encouraged to donate in an email sent out by University President Peter Salovey, the honorary chair of this year’s campaign. In addition, for the first time in at least two years, the University will match faculty and staff donations up to $100,000, according to Joshua Mamis, vice president of community engagement for United Way of Greater New Haven — the local chapter of a national organization that works with New Haven nonprofits.
“We have a very ambitious definition of what we would refer to as a strategy for change,” Mamis said. “We don’t just raise money to give money away — we have specific areas of energy in which we invest money with strategic purpose.”
According to Jim Travers, vice president of development for United Way of Greater New Haven, the group has documentation of a partnership with Yale dating from the early 1990s, but he suspects the partnership began even before then. Travers said that he thinks Yale chose United Way as the main local nonprofit to donate to because United Way focuses on larger issues that plague the whole community and works with partner organizations that help execute United Way’s vision.
Mamis said he believes the relationship between Yale and United Way has been so long-standing because Yale recognizes and appreciates United Way’s focus on strategic change within the community, and not just charity.
“There is more energy this year, probably on both sides,” said Mamis.
United Way of Greater New Haven focuses on three main areas of support for the community — education, income support and health services. In addition to the yearly donation drive, United Way also partners with certain Yale undergraduate service groups.
For instance, United Way partnered with the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project last year during United Way’s “100 Days to End Homelessness” initiative. In addition to sending volunteers to conduct research on the condition of those who are chronically homeless in New Haven, YHHAP also donated $5,000 to the campaign.
Shea Jennings ’16, current president of YHHAP, said she thinks that United Way’s partnership with Yale has been fruitful because of the diversity of organizations and services that United Way is involved with, as well as the ease with which faculty and staff can donate — taking money directly out of a paycheck is an easy way to harness the willingness to give, said Jennings.
“In partnership with Yale, United Way is making a big difference in the greater New Haven area because of its capacity to bring people and initiatives to bear on some really important local challenges,” said Julie Adams, Master of Calhoun College who donated part of her paycheck to United Way last year.
United Way of Greater New Haven serves a radius of 12 Connecticut towns.